Paterson scrambles for more COVID-19 vaccine doses amid Johnson & Johnson pause

The pausing of the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is having an impact on community vaccination sites in New Jersey, with many scrambling to find doses to honor appointments.

News 12 Staff

Apr 15, 2021, 2:23 AM

Updated 1,133 days ago

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The pausing of the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is having an impact on community vaccination sites in New Jersey, with many scrambling to find doses to honor appointments.
Federal officials recommended vaccine centers stop using the vaccine for the time being while they investigate reports that six women developed blood clots after receiving the shot.
A community site in Paterson has given out 2,300 doses of the J&J shot so far. City officials say that no one has reported any adverse effects. But the loss of that vaccine option is creating a crisis in the city.
Paterson has been dependent on the J&J vaccine, having received 1,000 doses a week for the site inside International High School.
“On average, we vaccinate about 600 people per day. Today we did half, we did 300,” says Mayor Andre Sayegh.
The mayor says that the pause has created a new round of vaccine hesitancy.
“I worked the line and there was a lot of skepticism. They kept asking, ‘If it’s J&J, we are going home,’” Sayegh says.
Six hundred doses were supposed to be used on Tuesday. But they now have to hustle to replenish supplies with the Moderna vaccine. That has been difficult, so the city has turned to St. Joseph’s Medical Center for help with vaccination.
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Health officials have been using the one-shot J&J vaccine exclusively for those who aren’t willing to come to the site.
“We were making sure that if it was one visitation, it was one vaccination,” says Sayegh. “So if you are homebound or homeless, we were using J&J.”
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli tried to alleviate some of the concerns about the vaccine on Wednesday.
“We understand that concerns about J&J may increase hesitancy. But it is vital that people get vaccinated to beat COVID-19 in our state,” she said.
The Department of Health says 47,266 women in the affected age range got the Johnson & Johnson shot and so far, no illnesses have been reported.
It is now up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to figure out what is happening.
"People want to know, ‘Can we use the vaccine even with rare events or do we use the two-dose vaccines we have?’ It's a decision that needs to be made quickly,” says epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz.
Health experts say that the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks.


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